Six arrested in Jharkhand in NEET case; Sanjeev Mukhiya kingpin, says Economic Offences Unit

Economic Offences Unit mulls brain-mapping and narcoanalysis of arrested accused; officials visit Hazaribagh school to record statements of teachers, check CCTV footage at Ranchi courier agency’s office

Updated - June 22, 2024 10:48 pm IST

Published - June 22, 2024 10:05 pm IST - Patna

A Congress protest at Shahid Chowk in Jharkhand capital Ranchi on June 20, 2024 against alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG.

A Congress protest at Shahid Chowk in Jharkhand capital Ranchi on June 20, 2024 against alleged irregularities in the NEET-UG. | Photo Credit: ANI

Investigation into the NEET paper leak case led the Bihar Police to neighbouring Jharkhand where police arrested six people from Deoghar on Friday night. A team led by officials of the Economic Offences Unit (EOU) brought the six to Patna for questioning.

Deoghar Police said five Nalanda residents Paramjit Singh, Baldev Kumar, Prashant Kumar, Ajit Kumar, Rajiv Kumar, and one Panku Kumar, were arrested from a house near AIIMS-Deoghar.

Another team of the Bihar Police went to Hazaribagh and Ranchi on Friday following a tip-off. It visited Oasis School in Hazaribagh to record the statements of the examination controller and teachers. In Hazaribagh, NEET was conducted across four centres -- Vivekanand School, Xavier School, Oasis School and DAV School.

In Ranchi, the Bihar Police searched the premises of a courier agency at Kokar Chowk. Police officials said NEET exam papers were sent through courier to different states. Police checked CCTV footage from the agency’s office and recorded statements of its employees.

A senior EOU official told The Hindu that the police has found that a partially burnt question paper it had recovered from a flat belonging to one of the accused in Patna was allocated to a NEET centre in Hazaribag.

“We wanted to tally the burnt paper with the real question paper and requested the National Testing Agency to share the question papers. After tallying, we have come to know that the question paper series was allocated to a centre in Hazaribagh,” the official said.

The EOU may conduct brain mapping and narco-analysis tests of the accused, said the official.

The Jharkhand connection emerged after the name of Sanjeev Mukhiya, believed to be the kingpin of the paper leak, surfaced. Mr. Mukhiya first received the NEET question papers and answer sheets from an unknown ‘professor’ on his mobile, an EOU official said.

For the past 20 years, Mr. Mukhiya, a resident of Nagarnausa village in Nalanda district of Bihar, has been involved in paper leaks. His son, Shiv Kumar, a doctor, is currently in jail in another case of paper leak.

Mr. Mukhiya was arrested for leaking the paper of the constable recruitment exam conducted by Bihar Public Service Commission in 2016. Once a fourth-grade employee, he became a Panchayat head and has considerable money and muscle power, said the official. His wife, Mamta Devi, had unsuccessfully contested the 2020 Assembly election from the united Lok Janshakti Party from the Harnaut seat.

“We have got the information that Sanjeev Mukhiya, alias Lootan, is the person who first received the question papers and the answer sheets on his mobile from an unknown professor. He is absconding and efforts are on to catch him,” the EOU official.

The official said on the night of May 4, around 20 to 25 candidates had gathered at a play school in the Khemnichak locality of Patna where the NEET questions and answer sheets were distributed by Mr. Mukhiya. MBBS students from Patna and Ranchi were present as ‘solvers’. “The answer sheets were given to those students who had already paid money,” said the official.

Amit Anand and Nitish Kumar, who have been arrested by the EOU along with Sikandar Prasad Yadavendu, could be working for Mr. Mukhiya, the official said.

On Saturday, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav asked the EOU to catch Mr. Mukhiya at the earliest and threatened to release photographs and other documents about the accused that may ‘embarrass’ the Bihar government.

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